AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: JEN WARREN, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, Jen Warren, an associate in Kansas, shares how important it is not just to stand by LGBTQ+ communities, but also to educate allies.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

JEN WARREN

Operations Clerk at Distribution Center in Ottawa, KS

I am an openly gay, 34-year-old, AEO employee at the distribution center in Ottawa, KS. I have worked for AEO since October 2006. I love nothing more than to be able to come to work and know that my job is not in jeopardy because of who I am.

I could not be more proud of who I work for because of AEO’s support of all people, not just LGBTQ+ people. Obviously, that hits closest to home for me, but I appreciate ALL the equality in our workplace.

Jen and her nephew

Times have certainly changed in the last 15 years since I came out. I can’t imagine having to come out before then. I am very happy that kids these days have far more opportunities to be successful with programs such as It Gets Better, which is supported by AE’s Pride collection.

Educating allies is just as important, if not more important. Educating parents of gay children is so important, too, especially in these parts.

Jen getting a pedicure with friends

Let me tell ya! I believe AEO’s policies have helped turn around a few employees on their feelings about homosexuality. I was born and raised in Ottawa, Kansas. It could use all the education it can get on LGBTQ+ rights. AEO helps the case!

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: TALIA HOLLIS-ELWELL, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

 We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, Talia, a district team leader, shares her journey, including growing up in rural Tennessee, coming out to her mother in 1998, celebrating her first Pride in San Francisco in 2002, and meeting the woman who’d become her wife – it was love at first sight!

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

TALIA HOLLIS-ELWELL

District Team Leader in Tennessee

When I saw the AE windows for Pride this summer, I started crying. I was blown away with how all of AE will have this presentation. I called my wife and told her about it because I was so moved. We talked about our own history and disbelief that the world has come so far.

Our story started in the ’90s in rural Tennessee towns. I moved to Nashville for university and decided to come out to my mom in 1998. My wife came out to her family just the year before. At the time she worked as a high school band director and her principal asked her to resign. These were not easy times for our community.

Talia Hollis-Elwell

We met in 1999 and it was love at first sight. We will celebrate 20 years together this August. Our first Pride was in San Francisco in 2002. It was unbelievable to see a city come out in such force to support the community. I can’t describe the feeling, but it was joy and excitement mixed with a feeling of sorrow that we couldn’t be ourselves every day at home.

Talia Hollis-Elwell and wife

Fast forward to 2015, when SCOTUS passed gay marriage. I was working in rural West Virginia, teaching a business class to a group of store leaders, when I received a text message from another team member telling me gay marriage was now legal. I whooped with excitement and told the class. Then I sent a quick text to my now-wife, telling her the news and asking if she would like to get married in a month, on our celebrated anniversary. She agreed. In many states like Kentucky and Tennessee, there was controversy about giving out licenses and allowing courthouse weddings. We were so nervous the state would find a way to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision. Luckily that didn’t happen. We told our families of our plans and they came out to support us in full force, many flying in from far away to support us on our day.

Talia Hollis-Elwell's Wedding Day

To me, Pride, is knowing who I am, being who I am, and being comfortable talking about it. All I have ever wanted is to say “my wife,” and have that phrase understood and accepted. Every day now, I live that feeling I had at my first San Francisco Pride, and AE supports that feeling. Our value of “individuality” means just that to me as an AE employee.

We are all individuals. We are American Eagle.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: ALY SILVER, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us. 

We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, AE digital project manager Aly shares what she wishes someone had told her when she was younger: love surrounds you.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

ALY SILVER

Digital Project Manager

I haven’t always worked at AE, but I have always been a lesbian. I didn’t always know that I was queer, but I knew I was different from a young age. I remember asking my mother in middle school if she would still love me if I were gay. Instead of asking her, I wish I could have asked my future self.

Aly Silver, digital project manager of american eagle

I would have told myself that not only will your parents still love you, but you will find love from so many directions. You will find a partner who not only accepts you completely, but also helps you to stay true to yourself and bring out your best, real self. You will find many communities to surround yourself with, who will also love and accept you completely.

Also, you will be surprised to find yourself in an awesome career at a company that not only accepts you, but actively works to create a more accepting society by working with nonprofits to help kids like you feel loved and accepted.

Love surrounds you.
You are different, yes, but that’s what makes you, you!

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: MASON KAUO, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

 We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, AE associate Mason in Hawaii shares how working at such an acceptance company makes him feel comfortable coming to work and keeping it #AerieREAL.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

MASON KAUO

AE Sales Associate & Jean Expert in Hawaii

The support that the company gives to the LGBTQ+ community makes me feel very proud about working with American Eagle. It makes me feel comfortable with coming to work, and I know that I don’t have to talk or act a certain way when I come in ‘cause everybody’s accepting here.

 

 

If I could tell my younger self some advice, I would tell my younger self to be yourself, to accept all your flaws, to express all of your uniqueness. And to most importantly, keep it #AerieREAL.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: WES AGBIGAY, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

 We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, AE associate Wes in Hawaii shares this advice to his younger self: it may take time, but look at me now.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

WES AGBIGAY

AE Merch Manager in Hawaii

Something I would tell my younger self is: Don’t worry. It takes time. And look where you are right now.

I came out to this dude. He actually used to be one of those guys that used to bully you – yeah you, younger you – and when I came out, I asked him, “Why did you used to bully me back in high school?” And you know what he told me? He basically told me, and this is a quote, “You were pretending to be someone you’re not.” And to this day he’s still my best friend and has been there for me through a lot of things.

 

 

So Wes, you, I just gotta tell you, it’s just going to get better.

It may take time, but look at you. Look at me. Look at me right now.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!

 

 

 

AE X IT GETS BETTER GUEST POST: DANIELLE BORJA, AE ASSOCIATE

For the fourth year in a row, AE is proud to support the It Gets Better Project by donating 100% of sales of our annual Pride collection to the nonprofit, which uplifts, empowers, and connects LGBTQ+ youth around the world. But inclusivity starts from the inside out, which is why we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what equality, individuality, and a better future mean to us.

 We kicked off our series of guest posts about love, acceptance, and how it really DOES get better with our Global Brand President, Chad Kessler, and have followed up with posts from associates across the country. Now, AE associate Danielle in Hawaii shares the best advice she ever received: love yourself before you love anyone else.

 

SHOP WOMEN’S PRIDE    |    SHOP MEN’S PRIDE

DANIELLE BORJA

Aerie Selling Manager in Hawaii

The best advice I was ever given was given to me in high school. I was going through a transition phase where I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be and more so who I wanted to be with. While my friends were girls dating guys or guys dating girls, there were few people in my school who actually stepped out to be exactly who they wanted to be. I didn’t know a lot of girls who liked girls back then. Or guys who liked guys.

I was speaking to a teacher one day and he told me to just love myself before I love anyone else. And when I choose to love someone, that I would make that decision based off of how I feel, and not on what everyone else has to say. He told me that being gay was just a label. It doesn’t matter who you choose to love, it just matters how they love you. As long as you are happy and you are 100% loving yourself, there is no reason to be fearful of being exactly what you are.

 

 

If you are gay or if you are straight, it doesn’t matter. Everybody in this world is equal. Everybody in this world deserves love. That is the best advice that I was given.

And since that day, I have never let that go. I have gone through ups and downs and at the end of my journey I have found my wife.

So, no matter who you are, make sure you are always loving yourself. Because you deserve it.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Share it with #ItGetsBetter @americaneagle to show your support and inspire LGBTQ+ youth around the world!